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Future of Rural Energy in England (FREE)

FREE was a 3 year rural energy advice programme, between 2010 and 2013, aimed at communities off mains gas, across England. The programme aimed to bring practical independent advice and information regarding fuel choices, energy efficient technologies, and carbon reduction measures, helping to reduce households’ energy consumption and fuel costs. In Cumbria, FREE was delivered by ACT in partnership with NEA (National Energy Action).

The programme was aimed at areas 100% off mains gas areas where Affordable Warmth / Fuel Poverty had been identified as an issue. In Cumbria this included the following Parishes: 

Eden: Ainstable, Askham, Bampton, Barton, Castle Sowerby, Catterlen, Culgaith, Glassonby, Hesket, Hunsonby, Kirkoswald, Langwathby, Lowther, Martindale, Orton, Ousby, Skelton, and Tebay

Carlisle: Arthuret, Bewcastle, Hethersgill, Kirkandrews, Kirklinton Middle, Nicholforest, and Solport & Stapleton

Allerdale: Blindcrake, Blindbothel, Buttermere, Embleton & District, Lorton, and Loweswater

Copeland: Millom

Work in Communities

ACT went out into communities to existing events such as Farmers Markets, Summer Shows and Community Coffee Mornings, to talk with residents and provide information and advice about making homes more energy efficient, saving money, understanding fuel bills, and renewable energy, as well as signposting to specialist support. The programme was also delivered in conjunction with Energy Best Deal workshops, looking at how to save money on fuel by comparing different fuel suppliers and tariffs, and making the switch.

North West Village Energy Audit

In October 2011 residents in Skirwith village and nearby Kirkland (in Eden) took part in a village energy audit. The information gathered has been collated by National Energy Action (NEA) to produce an energy audit report for the area: Skirwith and Kirkland Village Energy Audit Report.

The report has been made available to the local community to help them plan for their future and, together with audits completed in other regions, will be used to put the case to Government for a more tailored service provision for rural areas. The Village Energy Audit Reports provide real data on what a typical off-mains gas village looks like, giving an overview of energy needs and aspirations for the future, and recommendations for improving housing. Many thanks to Kathryn Thompson, local resident, for her support throughout the project in Skirwith and Kirkland.

Raising Awareness

We've also developed guidance aimed at front line staff and volunteers working with residents, particularly those supporting people in their homes. ‘Fuel Poverty in the Community’ is a short audio power point resource raising awareness of Fuel Poverty in Cumbria, the causes, how to recognise the signs, the solutions, and links to support and advice available for residents in need. Please note, this is a large file to download, free copies of the presentation are available to request on disc.

Information and Guidance

Guidance Sheets

Case Studies

Other information        
Latest News

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

13 September 2017

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

Volunteers from six Community Buildings around Cumbria were presented with achievement awards by ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) at their recent AGM. Over 50 people attended the event at Sedbergh People’s Hall, celebrating the enormous contribution which Village Hall volunteers make to the communities they serve. 

Medical Services and Transport needed by rural people

8 August 2017

Medical Services and Transport needed by rural people

From the 1,000 responses so far in the Cumbria Rural Panel Survey, the top priorities are: access to medical services, the need for transport services and affordable housing. Good Broadband and access to a village shop are also scoring highly. The survey being promoted by ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is asking rural Cumbrian residents which services are important to them.  The results will be used to provide a focus for the discussions of the Cumbria Rural Panel. The survey ask respondents to pick three services, from a list of eight, that are the most important to rural life and then asks people to identify the one thing that would improve life in rural Cumbria.

Cumbria Panel Rural Survey

4 July 2017

Cumbria Panel Rural Survey

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is asking rural Cumbrian residents what services are important to them.  The brief survey being used will provide a focus for the first discussions of the Cumbria Rural Panel.

New Emergency Planning guide for Cumbrian Households

27 June 2017

New Emergency Planning guide for Cumbrian Households

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is encouraging households across the county to consider how to be better prepared in the event of an emergency and has produced a simple Household Emergency Plan leaflet to help.

Prince's Countryside Fund supports resilience in Community Buildings

4 April 2017

Prince's Countryside Fund supports resilience in Community Buildings

Volunteers from across the county have met with ACTion with Communities in Cumbria to discuss how village halls and other community buildings can be more resilient.

ACT champions community and rural issues, and sees community buildings as a critical part of vibrant, sustainable rural life. Funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund is supporting ACT to develop a toolkit to help community buildings manage risks and be more resilient.

Chancellor urged to issue Budget VAT refund to village hall charities

30 March 2017

Chancellor urged to issue Budget VAT refund to village hall charities

ACTion with communities in Cumbria is urging the Government to pledge £3 million in the Budget to refund the VAT paid by village halls on improvement work such as modern kitchen and toilet facilities and new meeting rooms. 

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